Some personal reflections on WCPT Congress 2017

Each year we try to take Physiopedia to one international conference to get away from our computer screens and meet Physiopedia users and partners face to face and also to spread the word about the available information, resources and courses to those remaining PTs out there who have yet to discover Physiopedia. This year with the World Confederation for Physical Therapy Congress being hosted in Cape Town, South Africa we were particularly motivated to attend for obvious reasons! Now that the conference has passed I have had a few moments to reflect on the many vivid and intense experiences that this involved for Rachael and myself.

We were very keen to spend the day before the conference immersing ourselves in the conflicted and complex history of South Africa and Cape Town with a visit to Robben Island where Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners were incarcerated for decades during apartheid. Unfortunately due to bad weather the boat trip to the island did not run, however the related museum in the harbour provided ample opportunity to learn more about the individuals whose courage and conviction in the face of oppression can still provide a powerful inspiration to us all today. In this museum we also learned about the vital role the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) played in highlighting the plight and providing support to the political prisoners of apartheid and we feel proud and humbled that Physiopedia is working with the physiotherapy team in this organisation today.

Even the gift shop of this museum presented us with moments for inspiration and reflection with many items such as coffee mugs and placemats displaying thought provoking quotes from Nelson Mandela, perhaps the greatest leader of our times. His quotations on facing seemingly insurmountable challenges and also on the power of education seemed particularly relevant to the ongoing mission of Physiopedia:

It always seems impossible until it’s done

Education is the great engine of personal development. It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, that the son of a mine worker can become the head of the mine, that a child of farmworkers can become the president of a great nation. It is what we make out of what we have, not what we are given, that separates one person from another.

Our base for the next 3 days at the conference was the Physiopedia stand within the exhibition hall where we were able to show off the new Physiopedia website and share how far the project has come since the last WCPT congress in Singapore. We had an fantastic response from the conference attendees and I was kept extremely busy for the entire 3 days on the stand talking to countless individuals, to the point where I started losing my voice! Many people came over just to thank Physiopedia and its this kind of amazing feedback that keeps us and the rest of the team motivated and working hard to keep on pushing the project even further.

In the meantime Rachael was kept even more busy meeting with existing and potential partners at every level within the profession from all corners of the world. By the end of the conference we were both filled with excitement and ideas for the future development of the Physiopedia project, and also very tired and ready for a short break!

We would like to take this opportunity to thank the Physiopedia team that have enabled the project to become what it is today and also the many people that came to speak to us during the conference. We are already excited at the prospect of WCPT Congress 2019 in Geneva by which time we anticipate having an exciting new chapter in the Physiopedia story to tell…